Wilson and Jets Never Get Lift-Off: Takeaways from Pats Win

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 19: Devin McCourty #32 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball after intercepting a pass by quarterback Zach Wilson #2 of the New York Jets in the third quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on September 19, 2021 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

The Jets will have to wait a little bit longer to get another crack at breaking the six-year losing streak against the Patriots. The boys in blue rolled into Metlife and made sure it was apparent they were playing against a rookie QB. The defense forced four, count ’em, FOUR, interceptions of the “new face of the franchise” for the Jets. Despite the four turnovers, the Jets kept the game respectable before the Pats pulled away late.

While getting the first win of the season is an important monkey to get off the back, and despite the Pats maybe being a play away from 2-0, there was a lot left to be desired from the team’s performance on Sunday. Here are some takeaways from the game:

Josh Uche continues to be a force as a situational pass rusher. With Van Noy out with an injury, it seemed Uche would be in line for a much-increased snap total over last week. Instead, the Patriots utilized practice squad call-up Tashawn Bower to match the Jets heavy personnel on early downs. Uche’s usage mirrored his usage last week but the young stud found his way home for 2 more sacks, bringing his total to 3 on the season.

After a stellar outing in his debut, Mac looked a bit more like a rookie going against the Jets. His final stat line reflected his usual efficient approach (22/30 for 186 yards 0 TD/0 INT). He continues to be safe with the ball, something that should be appreciated after his rookie counterpart took “no risk it, no biscuit” to heart against the Patriots defense. Zach Wilson’s first two pass attempts were intercepted by the Patriots.

The next two picks for the Patriots defense looked like Wilson maybe thought his guys were wearing the darker uniforms.

JC Jackson looks like the intended target on a corner route….

While Devin McCourty looked like he was fielding a punt.

Wilson finished the day 19/33 for 210 yards, 0 touchdowns, and the 4 interceptions.

After surrendering 6 sacks last week, the Jets again struggled to protect their young passer, surrendering 4 more sacks to the Patriots.

Wilson also became the 4th Top-5 pick with 0 passing touchdowns and 4 interceptions in a game since 2001. Two of the other three on the list? Top Jets picks Same Darnold and Mark Sanchez. Gang Green knows how to set the young guns up for success….

Mac Jones’ stat line was conservatively efficient, further evidenced by a 4-yard average depth of target. Jones took one shot on an offside call against the Jets and later found Henry for a sizeable gain but otherwise, he kept it short and safe when dropping back.

Jones’ passing chart tells the story: lots of dump-offs behind the line and a lot of short easy completions. Jones showed off his incredible touch with a DIME to Jakobi Meyers on a slot fade but otherwise played conservatively with the football. After the game, Jones said, “I think it was just me. I can push the ball down the field more. I can definitely hold the ball in a good way. Maybe just move and try to make a better throw downfield.”

After a big game last week Agholor had a much more pedestrian stat line; hauling in all 3 of his targets for 21 yards.

Damien Harris didn’t match his gaudy total from last week but turned in a solid 62 yards on 16 carries including a highlight-reel touchdown run in the third quarter.

Harris simply refused to go down before receiving some assistance to cross the goal line.

Last week the Patriots went run-heavy in the first quarter, calling 10 run plays against only 5 called passes. Against the Jets, the offense found a lot more balance in the game script with 9 called runs and 10 called passes in the opening frame.

Trent Brown is a massive human and his absence was massively felt by the Patriots’ offense. The Jets had 3 sacks of Mac Jones, all coming against backup RT Yasir Durant. The Patriots only allowed a single sack last week to the Dolphins which came on the opening drive. Durant was replaced by Herron, who Durant replaced last week. Getting Trent Brown will be a huge boost for this offense.

Isaiah Wynn hasn’t fared much better on the opposite side to start the season. The fourth-year left tackle has had three called penalties (2 holds, 1 false start) on him in the last two games and has allowed pressure frequently. The line should solidify as they get more reps together but it has been anything but a sure thing in front of the rookie signal-caller.

The Patriots struggled on third down this week after having success in this area last week. The Pats started 1-5 on third down with an average distance of ten yards to go. Not an enviable position for your offense to find itself in while on the road against a divisional opponent. The Pats finished 3-12 on third down for the day.

A week after holding the Dolphins to 74 yards on the ground, the Pats were gashed for 152 yards on 31 carries against the Jets. In a closer game, this kind of run defense could end up costing you the game. Hopefully, Kyle Van Noy returns next week as the Pats will need him as they take on the Saints and All-World running back Alvin Kamara. The Pats spent money in the offseason to shore up their front seven in hopes of improving on the 26th ranked rush defense from a season ago.

Speaking of offseason spending, the Pats invested in tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to open things up in the red zone. The Patriots are yet to find that success as they are 2-of-7 in red zone opportunities in the first 2 games.

Henry and Smith provided a little boost to the passing game Sunday. Smith caught 4 of 5 targets for 28 yards while Henry caught 2 of 4 targets for 42 yards. Part of the blame can be placed on Jones, but McDaniels should be finding ways to get these two involved.

James White is showing he’s still the same old James White and was only limited by the offense last year. White finished with 6 catches on 6 targets for 45 and 20 yards on 5 carries and a touchdown on the ground. After a trying year last year, the steady veteran running back is keeping true to his form.

The Patriots got bailed out by an early whistle (Jets fans have no room to complain about inadvertent whistles) on a first-quarter fumble by WR Kendrick Bourne. A week after putting the rock on the ground 4 times, it was concerning to see the Pats cough it up twice more on Sunday (Mac Jones fumble and the Bourne play). A heady reminder that ball security is job security in the NFL.

A week after being called for 8 penalties the Patriots made small progress Sunday, getting called for 6 against the Jets. Hopefully, that trend continues even if 6 penalties is still too many.

The attitude surrounding the team seemed much different after the game Sunday than it was last week, despite the complete change in outcomes. Many applauded Jones’ effort last week and optimism surrounding the team was overflowing after a 1 point loss. This week it seemed that fans and media pundits were expecting more from the offense despite a 19 point victory. While Jones has looked like a veteran, it’s important to remember that he still in fact is a rookie. And one that wasn’t getting all the first-team snaps throughout the preseason. As the season progresses the Patriots’ offense should settle into a nice groove.

Looking ahead at our AFC East counterparts’ schedule for the next month gives a glimpse into what might be a shakeup from last year’s standings. The Dolphins lost QB Tua Tagavailoa on Sunday to a rib injury for an undetermined amount of time. They get the red-hot Raiders next week, a stumbling but talented Colts team after, then face old friend Tom Brady and the Bucs before seeing another rookie QB in Trevor Lawrence. The rudderless Jets face the undefeated Denver Broncos before seeing the Titans and Falcons and finishing up their season series with Pats. The Bills will face Washington, Houston, Kansas City, and Tennessee. The Bills have been a mixed bad early in the season. Maybe their 35-0 thumping of the Dolphins on Sunday gets them on track. The Pats face the Jekyll and Hyde Saints next week before facing the TB12-led Bucs on Sunday night. They see old friend Nick Caserio and the Texans before wrapping up with the Cowboys. With a log jam up top (Patriots, Bills, & Dolphins all 1-1) the next four weeks could offer some separation. All four teams face some stiff competition in what may be an early tell for the rest of the season.

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